Thirty-odd years ago, I placed a classified ad in the pages of punk zine Maximum Rockandroll (MRR). I was searching for a penpal who was plugged into the subterranean punk and metal scenes in the USA. I wanted to trade tapes filled with raucous noise. However, what that ad mostly brought were intimate letters and even more detailed photos from hardened prisoners, which didn’t expand my musical knowledge, but certainly broadened my teenage mind.
Like a lot of grizzled ol’ punk fans from down under, my relationship with MRR was strong and steady for a number of years. However, the internet’s depth eventually surpassed MRR’s reach. I brought fewer and fewer copies as the years passed, but I always held a sweet spot for MRR. Sure, the zine occasionally expressed opinions that I thought were batshit and / or horseshit, and MRR could be an unnecessarily strict gatekeeper at times too. But I always admired the zine’s bluntness and fierceness, and how it held fast to its DIY and not-for-profit roots.
Earlier this year, when MRR announced they were ceasing publication (albeit continuing online), I saw a lot of tearful reactions. But I also saw a number of people shrug and said, “Who cares? MRR’s best days are long gone.” That might be true, for some, and it’s easy to forget how divisive MRR was, and how it gave rise to such bitter ire, but I always loved the zine’s crude charms and cruder template. MRR wasn’t at its zenith when it ceased printing. But when the zine’s final issue arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago, I felt genuinely bereft and assailed by nostalgia.
MRR originally started out as a radio show in San Francisco in 1977, and the zine first went to print in 1982. MRR was hugely instrumental in chronicling decades of punk history, and it was renowned for its diehard leftist politics and anti-corporate stance. The zine’s founder, Tim Yohannan, who died in 1998, had no issue publicly criticizing musicians he decided weren’t sufficiently punk, or were simply fucking sellouts, and MRR, in general, followed suit.
The zine was trolling bands, shaming idiots, and publishing provocative commentary long before social media took those endeavors to their nth degree. MRR’s 432 issues were constructed by an army of volunteers who selflessly highlighted gargantuan amounts of little-known punk and hardcore from all around the globe. At the zine’s height, in the mid-90s, MRR was selling 30,000 copies a month. However, like scores of other independent publications, MRR’s readership plummeted in recent years.
Given the often desperate state of underground media, MRR’s demise felt all but inevitable. (Or at least, unsurprising.) Nevertheless, the end of the zine’s print run still feels like the collapse of a crucial component of punk rock infrastructure. Not least because the rabble-rousing philosophies of countless punks, freaks, outsiders and weirdos were so heavily influenced by MRR’s take on DIY music and culture. The zine frequently featured articles filled with eye-opening revelations for new generations of fans. Especially fans who’d initially been lured into punk’s DIY depths via mainstream-friendly bands.
In the end, it was MRR’s staunch mix of passionate opinions and a heap of attitude that gave it such a strong and, for some, irresistible personality. No question, for all its notoriety, MRR irrevocably changed the course of my life. I’m sure it’s the same for many others, and that’s why MRR’s physical demise feels like the loss of something tangible, something substantial, something that punk fans of all ages might agree was a pivotal piece of underground architecture.
The good news is, even though MRR has closed its (printed) pages, I’m not going to finish this introduction on a downbeat note. Loss is always hard, change is often tough, but endless amounts of skull-crushing music are still out there waiting to be discovered. In Crust We Trust Vol: 4 is packed with super-charged punk (and a little metal) that’s guaranteed to lift you out of the doldrums. Maybe not all the tracks below would be ‘MRR-approved’, but you know what: fuck ’em. Nothing’s more punk than disrespecting your elders’ wishes, right?
Agnosy – When Daylight Reveals the Torture
When Daylight Reveals the Torture is the third full-length album from hulking UK crust quartet Agnosy. The group’s last release, 2014’s Traits of the Past, was a huge step up from Agnosy’s debut (both compositionally and instrumentally), featuring a significant increase in production heft and intimidating harshness. Agnosy continue that same trampling trajectory on WDRTT, mixing crust, d-beat, stenchcore and thickset death metal, and sounding like a thundering, ironclad beast in the process.
You could point to UK crust pioneers like Deviated Instinct, Doom and Axegrinder as being inspirations here, but Agnosy’s heavyweight approach also falls into the Stormcrow, Hellshock or Sanctum school of pulverizing metallic crust. WDRTT was recorded live, meaning Agnosy’s raw riffs bite down hard, and their in-your-face rage has a fiercer immediacy. Agnosy’s latest tracks feature more red-hot soloing than before, and they’re loaded with ratcheting tension and brutal release. Kudos to Agnosy for wrestling control of the creative onslaught here—WDRTT is a knockout victory. Vicious. Piledriving. Devastating. [Craig Hayes]
Procrastinate/Myteri – Split
Last Rites – Last Rites
The 12” split from galloping Greek crust band Procrastinate and like-minded Swedes Myteri was recorded at the tail end of their tour of Greece in 2018. As expected, the split features powerhouse crustcore with roaring vocals and colossal hooks scattered amongst crashing, cathartic crescendos. All the muscular / melodic momentum that fans of fist-raising metallic crust demand is here. Additionally, the Myteri and Procrastinate split simply highlights those connections forged in the underground, where DIY bands and fans build all those crucial, self-supporting communities.
If the Procrastinate and Myteri split appeals, then check out the self-titled full-length from Greek crusties Last Rites. The band’s promising debut was originally released in 2017, but it’s recently re-appeared on vinyl for the first time thanks to Terminal Records and Stand Against Vivisection Records. Last Rites are highly aggressive, but melodic, and their hybrid hardcore / metal is clearly inspired by and indebted to Wolfbrigade, Tragedy, Martyrdöd and kin. [Craig Hayes]
Manger Cadavre? – AntiAutoAjuda
Language barriers are often dismantled (or even torn asunder) by evocative music. That’s certainly the case with visceral Brazilian crust crew Manger Cadavre?. The band are fiercely political, and you don’t need to understand Portuguese to appreciate the sheer intensity of their inferno-strength fervour. Manger Cadavre?’s impassioned songwriting and hard-hitting music are put to excellent use on their full-length debut, AntiAutoAjuda, which digs deep into the psychological and social impacts of capitalism. Raw slabs of pick-slidin’ crust careen into jagged hardcore throughout. See within for system-smashing born from struggle, and hope and healing born from strife. [Craig Hayes]
PS: If your knowledge of Brazilian punk doesn’t extend very far past Ratos de Porão, Manger Cadavre? also serve as an excellent gateway into a rowdy new world.
Zyanose – Demo 2019
Japanese crasher-crusties Zyanose have been making a hellish racket since the early 2000s. The band have yet to issue any accommodating music, and their latest release, Demo 2019, is another uncompromising baptism of bulldozing shitnoise. Demo 2019 is abrasive enough to strip skin at 50 paces, with squalls of feedbacking guitar and bass setting the tinnitus-inducing foundation, and incomprehensible vocals to boot. Zyanose remain a step above generic noise-makers, though—burying unforeseen twists and turns deep within their corrosive songs. No question, Zyanose’s music is often a significant challenge (and about as pleasant as tonguing a pulsing hemorrhoid), but the band’s cacophonous catalog is also a goddamn treasure trove for obnoxious noise nerds. [Craig Hayes]
(See also: label D-Takt & Råpunk’s recent Zyanose 7” 2005-2011 box set, which collects a trio of often hard-to-find releases, plus a few poster, sticker and postcard treats besides.)
Totaled – Lament
Totaled’s blackened hardcore rains down like a hope-obliterating barrage. The band’s heavyweight debut, Lament, is released by Profound Lore, and much like many other bands on the label’s roster, Totaled’s maelstrom aesthetic features plenty of abstract and enigmatic elements. The band don’t make it easy to wrestle clear-cut signifiers from the black hole of impenetrable noise they produce. Caustic crust is definitely here, as is death metal, d-beat, and unforgivingly harsh black metal. But it’s probably easier to use clear-cut descriptors like pulverizing or bludgeoning to describe the tone and texture of Totaled’s intimidating songs. The band remain a mystery while mixing extreme metal’s grim brutality with the bleakness of apocalyptic crust and hardcore. Lament is 666% listener-unfriendly, and all the better for it. [Craig Hayes]
Neolithic – Neolithic
Maryland’s Neolithic falls pretty squarely into death metal, albeit with such a scuzzy and crusty tonality that their crust roots can’t be denied. Still not convinced? They’ve already shared a split with the melo-crust kings in Martyrdöd, and that’s enough for me. And truthfully, it’s that scuzz and filth that makes them most interesting—a large part of these riffs are respectable, but seldom transcendent, and the bulldozer mid-pace they stick to can wear a little thin over time. But just when I’m ready to write it off as a little too by-the-numbers, moments like that simple-but-effective thrashy riff in “Perdition Chaser,” or the well-placed stutter in the groove of the dissonant clang of “War Discordance” pull themselves up from the grime and hook their claws right in. Here as on last year’s Cult Of Ignorance EP, Neolithic suffers a bit from that tendency towards monotony, but if filthy death metal fuels your fire, you can certainly do worse than these dirty bastards. [Andrew Edmunds]
Khiis – Bezoar
Oakland punks Khiis’ songs feature vocals partly sung in Farsi, and the band’s blistering 2017 demo met with a hearty roar of approval. Khiis’ follow-up, 2018’s Saboor 7″, was equally applauded, and the band’s first full-length, Bezoar, is, unsurprisingly, a defiant triumph as well. Admittedly, Khiis’ music is cleaner and sharper than most of the sawtoothed noise that usually features around here. However, Khiis’ knife-like tone doesn’t suffer from any lack of volatility, velocity, or ferocity. If anything, stripping their songs down to their most primal essentials means Khiis’ full-throttle metal-edged hardcore is streamlined for maximum intensity and impact. [Craig Hayes]
Contorture – Sanctuary
One of the greatest things about punk’s heaviest jamz is that they make for rock-solid armor as you fight your way through life’s interminable hurdles. That’s essentially the kind of music that noise-crushers Contorture make. The Gothenburg-based band’s second full-length, Sanctuary, is a rip-roaring (and Molotov cocktail-hurling) soirée that’s sure to slay your tussles and troubles. Sanctuary features eighteen tracks of fuzzed-out / ultra-distorted guitars sitting atop a brawling melee of white-noise, d-beat, crust, and blazing (albeit still rawly produced) hardcore. Contorture are politically engaged, duly enraged, and spoiling for a fight, and the band’s furious calls for resistance and autonomy are drenched in feedbacking intensity. Sanctuary is recommended for fans of riotous noise and riots in general. [Craig Hayes]
Enzyme – Howling Mind
Australian band Enzyme features members from groups like Pisschrist and Kromosom, which is more than enough tempting information to get distortion devotees fizzing at the bung. No question, Enzyme does make thoroughly obnoxious music—the kind that inevitably leads to knife fights in car parks—but the band’s songs also exhibit brighter bursts of psychedelic and, dare I say it, downright ingenious hardcore.
Enzyme’s first two 7″ releases quickly ramped up excitement about the band’s full-length debut, and Howling Mind unquestionably meets expectations. Howling Mind finds Enzyme exalting the ear-fucking madness and mayhem of Disorder and Confuse, but it’s that aforementioned (and acid-fried) stonk that adds fascinating background colors and shading into the mix. Howling Mind is unhinged, off-the-chain, and driven by chaos throughout, but it also remains distinctive and enthralling, thanks to Enzyme’s shrewd songwriting. [Craig Hayes]
Paranoid ( 偏執症者 ) – N.W.O.B.H.M. – Volume 1 & 2
Prolific Swedish raw punk / metal crew Paranoid (aka 偏執症者 ) recently released two hefty compilations, N.W.O.B.H.M. – Volume 1 & 2, which collect scores of EPs, splits, and unreleased tracks, and makes for a handy catch-all for newbies and dedicated fans alike. Paranoid’s last album, Heavy Mental Fuck-Up!, was their most overtly metal recording yet, but the band’s earlier tracks, most of which are collected here, embraced Disclose-inspired noise punk first and foremost, blending that with Venom-worshipping black metal.
N.W.O.B.H.M. Volume 1 & 2 are a perfect way to get up to speed with Paranoid’s harsh and heavy hardcore. And keep an ear out for the band’s 7″ split with Stockholm-based mangel monsters Sex Dwarf; it’s sure to be another rampaging release that’ll no doubt sell out in the blink of an eye. Apologies, there’s no embed available for N.W.O.B.H.M. – Volume 1 & 2, but enjoy a couple of red-raw ragers from Paranoid and Sex Dwarf’s split. Headbanging havoc, guaranteed. [Craig Hayes]
Hate Preachers – Bile of Progress Demo
Bile of Progress is the second demo from LA hardcore band Hate Preachers, and it rumbles and roars like it’s straight out of ’84. There’s no denying the strong UK second-wave hardcore influences here, which are duly updated with abundant guts and grit. Much like Khiis’ Bezoar LP, Bile of Progress isn’t as ravaged by feedbacking crust as most of the music around here, but what Bile of Progress does have is unrestrained riffs and a lot of vicious causticity. The demo’s certainly lean, but it’s still muscular, and it feels instinctive and honest. Murderous tunes delivered with urgent purpose. New school old school. Something like that. [Craig Hayes]
Kontrasosial – Filthy Scum EP
I shone a light on Indonesian punks Kontrasosial back in In Crust We Trust Vol: 2, mentioning their incendiary split with Scandi crust kingpins Crutches (which is well worth tracking down). The Bandung-based band’s Filthy Scum EP was recently co-released by a bunch of noted noise-mongers, namely Not Enough, Disaster Records, Phobia Records, and Rawmantic Disasters. Filthy Scum was recorded live, and given that Kontrasosial specialize in bleeding-raw d-beat and hardcore, it’s fair to say the EP is going to instantly appeal or shred your fucking nerves. The no-fi noise here is as scorching as an acid burn, so if you’re not a fan of primitive recordings, look away now. File under extremely abrasive vitriol. [Craig Hayes]
Game – No One Wins
Game’s latest batch of stampeding UK hardcore might be entitled No One Wins, but there’s no question that the band’s fans are definite winners here. No One Wins is angrier, tighter and more ruthless than Game’s Who Will Play? debut, and with Game’s members drawn from bloodthirsty UK hardcore smashers like Arms Race, Violent Reaction and Subdued, the group’s got brutal punk experience to burn. The NWOBHC collective harness the strengths of ye olde metallic hardcore, thrash, and the darkest strains of crossover punk. But Game aren’t living in the past—the group combine their influences with a powerful and altogether contemporary viciousness. Game are yet another top-notch example of British hardcore’s resurgence. [Craig Hayes]
Orphanage Named Earth – Saudade
Saudade is the sophomore release from Polish neo-crust / post-metal band Orphanage Named Earth. Much like the band’s behemoth debut, 2018’s DLP Re-evolve, the latest release from Orphanage Named Earth is built from familiar chunks of crusty metallic punk with plenty of atmospheric guitars and the occasional knockout hardcore punch thrown in. Musically, Orphanage Named Earth’s points of interest are all clearly signposted. Howls and growls mix with echoes of melancholic post-rock, and the band’s epic odes are reliably melodic, yet also quarrelsome. Lyrically, Saudade explores decay and liberation, comparing pre-civilisation life with the manifold barbarities of industrialization. Definitely a release for fans of deeply emotive neo-crust, as Orphanage Named Earth are explorers of both the mind and the soul. [Craig Hayes]
Systemic Death – Systema 1011
Long-running Yokohama City thrashers Systemic Death have been kicking around since the early 80s, and the latest release from the legendary Japanese hardcore band is a cassette compilation from the well-stocked armory of Malaysian label Hardcore Hell. Systema 1011 combines Systemic Death’s last two releases: the Systema-Ten LP and Systema 11 7″. And with fresh members joining in recent times, Systema 1011 sounds duly galvanized and energized. Originally released on CD by Japanese label Fade In Records in 2018, Systema 1011 is stacked with classic Japanese hardcore. Expect über-tight riffs, barking vocals, and destructive percussion, all delivered with Systemic Death’s pinpoint accuracy and urgency. [Craig Hayes]
See You in Hell – Život ve strachu
You’d forgive celebrated Czech hardcore band See You in Hell for downing their tools after the passing of founding member Filip Fuchs in 2016. However, with a fresh line-up and a more metal-sounding methodology, See You in Hell’s latest album, Život ve strachu, is a heavyweight hitter ripe with gusto and potency. Like past releases, this record is fast and raw, but See You in Hell hammer their melodic hardcore into thicker and steelier form this time round. Život ve strachu is out now via killer Czech Republic label Insane Society Records, and many thanks to long-running and always informative punk portal DIY Conspiracy for alerting me to See You in Hell’s return. [Craig Hayes]
D7Y – D7Y MLP
Major Mistake – Off With a Warning Demo
Venganza – Tu Patria
Have you got room for a trio of international treats before you go? If so, check out Icelandic crew D7Y, Finnish face-rippers Major Mistake, and Spanish agitators Venganza.
Reykjavik-based D7Y stack their recent self-titled MLP with aptly volcanic d-beat and primitive blasts of gutter-dwelling hardcore. Tracks erupt at top speed, tearing through time and space, and while D7Y exhibit plenty of hurtling Scandi and Japanese punk influences, grindcore’s pace plays a significant role, too.
Major Mistake’s Off With a Warning demo is a crude pile of crusty bile. Recorded live at the band’s practice space, the demo is dissonant enough to rattle your fillings and dirty enough to give you contact dermatitis. Death metal and grindcore add heftier armor and more bass-heavy propulsion to Major Mistake’s otherwise rough af crust and lo-fi noise.
Venganza deal in incendiary political hardcore, and their Tu Patria album features 10 fiery songs spat out in 20 minutes. Tu Patria is slicker and even brawnier than Venganza’s past endeavors, but their temperature gauge is still set on high, and the band’s raw rage and rawer sound remains fully intact. [Craig Hayes]